Timothy Thatcher vs Zack Gibson
Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
(reviewed 11/09/2017) Oh my god yes. Yes yes yes. This isn’t a GREAT match or anything but it’s the sort of well-executed grappling match that is just sorely lacking in this era of reversing flips into triangle armbars and calling it great technical wrestling and I love it. On top of that there’s the rare “dream match that actually delivers” feeling to it, which helps a lot. As you’d imagine, the majority of this match is spent on the mat, where both these men are very comfortable. Thatcher’s clearly the superior technician, being more experienced as well as worldlier than his opponent, which forces the crafty Gibson to resort to dirty tactics that range from eye raking to clever rope usage to just straight up punching Thatcher’s arm behind the ref’s back. It’s simple stuff, but moments like Gibson repeatedly slapping Thatcher in his guard and then covering up to avoid retaliation are delightful in their simple effectiveness. While this is one of the quieter Cockpit crews I’ve heard yet, they still throws some good jabs at Gibson before and during the match, and Thatcher responds to their quizzical jeers in a very fun way. By virtue of his cheating, Gibson’s able to take control of the match and go after Thatcher’s arm in earnest, and while there aren’t a ton of highlights to write about it’s really compelling stuff if you’re a fan of mat-based grappling. I love the way Thatcher sells limbwork and how he has to adjust his strategies to compensate for it and there’s a ton of that here. In the end he’s got no real way of adjusting his Fujiwara armbar with a bad wing himself and Gibson’s able to slip free and eventually muscle his way into the Shankly Gates for the quick submission. Lovely stuff here. Some awkward moments of unfamiliarity or a lack of high end intensity keep this from being a true MOTYC, but there’s a lot to love here and it’s something that means a lot to me regardless. It’s two of my big favorite wrestlers in the world going at it in a grapplefuck match in a small building. It’s the sort of thing that feels like it’s booked just for me but I’m sure most anyone could enjoy it, so be sure to give it a watch.